What is it about?

A lot of research has focused on how new weather radar features now available due to the recent dual-polarization upgrade can help forecasters understand more about what a given storm is doing. However, there is still uncertainty about how to explicitly use some of these new radar features to aid with severe weather warning decisions especially without the assistance of algorithms which can take years to develop and implement. Therefore, this study examines one such radar feature using only data and methods that are currently available to National Weather Service forecasters. We examine the magnitude of the feature, relate it to commonly used radar features, present examples of feature evolution, and compare results with algorithm output using 45 different storms in central Oklahoma.

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Why is it important?

It is likely that dual-polarization radar data is helpful to forecasters issuing severe weather warnings and previous work has provided information about what features may be helpful and how algorithms can provide important information about these features. However, widespread use of dual-polarization data to help make warning decisions is not occurring perhaps due to uncertainty in how to link these new radar features into existing conceptual models and the fact that helpful algorithms can take a long time to develop. We therefore focused on one radar feature, called a Zdr column, that can provide important information about a storm's updraft and therefore its potential threats. This radar feature could be especially useful because it develops and intensifies before commonly used radar features develop and intensify and can provide a clearer indication of storm intensity than commonly used radar features.


The purpose of this work is to provide information about radar features that can be used by forecasters to increase confidence in issuing severe weather warnings. The methods we used and the results we found suggest that forecasters can use this radar feature today with currently available data. We especially want to thank all of the forecasters who helped and provided guidance and expertise during the research process.

Charles Kuster
National Severe Storms Laboratory

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Using ZDR Columns in Forecaster Conceptual Models and Warning Decision-Making, Weather and Forecasting, November 2020, American Meteorological Society,
DOI: 10.1175/waf-d-20-0083.1.
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